Blank grassy can­vas to trop­i­cal haven

Tim Richard­son Sussex Gar­den size 8m x 17m

Gardeners' World - - Gardens Of The Year -

A bor­ing back gar­den, laid to lawn with a nar­row strip of flowerbed run­ning down each side, has been trans­formed into a jun­gle hide­away. The cou­ple have worked tire­lessly over the past 19 years, do­ing all of the work them­selves – dig­ging out old con­crete wash­ing line posts and build­ing a raised deck and per­gola. To get the ex­otic feel they craved, in the UK cli­mate, they make clever use of plants that look trop­i­cal, but are ac­tu­ally hardy, mixed in among the more ten­der plants.

I love the colo­nial feel­ing of the ve­randa – it re­ally takes you over­seas. This is a co­he­sive and con­sid­ered gar­den Alan Titch­marsh

What have you done to make the gar­den?

We have al­ways been mad keen on trop­i­cal plants, so we knew from the out­set what we wanted from the first gar­den of our own. We stripped off the turf and in­stalled our small wildlife pond, which is now vis­ited by frogs and drag­on­flies. We also built a cir­cu­lar deck in the shade of next door’s Christ­mas tree, with a walk­way over the pond. By the house, we built a sec­ond deck and a per­gola, with a grape vine and cho­co­late vine grow­ing over it. We wanted the feel of step­ping out of the house onto a planter’s ve­randa, to sur­vey the lush, trop­i­cal scene.

How do you pro­tect your plants over win­ter?

Among the back­bone of ev­er­greens, we use hardy plants with a trop­i­cal feel that don’t need elab­o­rate over­win­ter­ing fa­cil­i­ties. We then have colour in the gar­den from lilies, and an­nu­als such as Mex­i­can sun­flow­ers, morn­ing glory, dahlias, and black-eyed Su­san. A few years ago, we de­cided we could no longer live with­out a green­house and man­aged to get one sec­ond­hand for over­win­ter­ing the most ten­der plants.

What have been the big­gest chal­lenges?

The neigh­bour’s 50ft tall Christ­mas tree came down across our gar­den, in a storm a cou­ple of years ago. It took out fence pan­els, some old gar­den fur­ni­ture and gave the Mag­no­lia a se­vere prune! The green­house was, amaz­ingly, un­dam­aged. The gar­den has ben­e­fit­ted in the long-run, how­ever, as there is a lot more sun­light over the area now.

What do you love most about your gar­den?

The feel of the gar­den. It’s se­cluded, tran­quil and gives us the il­lu­sion that we are far away in the trop­ics.

A trop­i­cal par­adise – not an inch of lawn in sight Ac­cent colours are re­peated through the gar­den to bring har­mony to the trop­i­cal feel The wind­ing path cre­ates a sense of in­trigue and dis­guises the true size of the small plot Dra­matic fo­liage cre­ates the back­bone for the ex­otic feel – many of the plants are hardy After

Novem­ber 2018

Be­fore

A small green­house is vi­tal for over­win­ter­ing Tim’s ten­der plants. Sur­rounded by fo­liage, it’s in­te­gral to the gar­den The ve­randa cre­ates the per­fect place to re­lax and sur­vey the scene – it gives a nod to gar­dens found over­seas, too Chairs hid­den among the fo­liage pro­vide the ideal place to es­cape and re­lax

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